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on 18 September 2013
I heard Fagioli for the first time in Artaserse, from Vinci, and his performance stood out, well above the all-star cast of that opera.
I feared a delusion in this CD, being my expectances so high, but, well, I got just a corroboration of the appreciation for the marvellous vocal accomplishments of this artist!
A sumptuous voice, incredibly rich, flexible, agile, and, at the same time, nuanced, neither aggressive nor rampant. A true, deep pleasure for the listening, and also a great sensibility, the capacity to convey true meaning: passion, pain, fear, rage... Following my present knowledge, Fagioli is the best-best-best guy of the countertenors bunch!

Well, beyond the vocal pleasure, we can find a well capable conductor (Riccardo Minasi) and an excellent orchestra (Il Pomo d'Oro), that complete the top quality of this disc. Precision, liveliness and sparkle mark IMHO this execution.

Talking about the repertoire, in this CD we can found several arias composed for a well renowed castrato, Caffarelli. The wonderful French/English booklet, copious in texts and iconography, tells a lot about his life, atouts and temperamental flaws. Though I would not claim any of these arias as a masterpiece, all of them are pleasant and some are really touching (particularly in Pergolesi's "Lieto così talvolta").
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on 29 July 2014
In the accompanying booklet of this album, Caffarelli is being described as 'castrato assoluto'. In this highly amazing attempt by Franco Fagioli at interpreting the works sung by Caffarelli, the same 'assoluto' vocal traits are amply evident. Young Fagioli (born 1981) tackles in this album a diverse group of fiendishly difficult arias (total playing time well over 78 minutes!), and the chosen pieces are all warhorses (even if they are lyrical).
Fagioli's timbre does not sound feminine at all. His colour is rich, and in the lowest register, grainy, and his employs quite an amount of vibrato (even in baroque repertoire). In all these aspects, he is like a bel canto soprano assoluta, and in assuaging the more hard-core facets of his voice, he sings wonderfully fluid musical lines.
As other reviewers have already noted, Franco is prodigiously gifted. Like Max Emanuel Cencic, he is an 'interpretor' more than a 'singer'. Each single piece he tackles brims with individual character. Listeners just need to start listening to track No. 1, then moving to track No. 2 to savour the vast diverse expressions of this vocal wunderkind.
Fagioli's vocal attributes are really hard to number -
He has the full agility of a light lyrical coloratura soprano. He is fully capable of 'thinning out' his vocal folds to reach the highest register, some thing neither Philippe Jaroussky nor indeed any other male sopranist (including Arno Raurig, Randall Wong) is capable of. How a grown up man with a tenorial low register like Franco is capable of doing this is some thing totally beyond me, and Fagioli clearly is phenomenal in this aspect ALONE.
Of course, listeners would not fail to notice how rich a middle and low register Fagioli commands. Indeed, his range encompasses, to my ears at least, no less than 3 full octaves.
On the above observations alone, I really wonder if the term 'countertenor' is apt, but then, when it comes to such an 'assoluto' type of singer, this term may fit for it lack of specificity: this man, clearly, is a tenor-contralto-mezzo-soprano-cum-coloratura soprano.
On top of all these, I wonder if Fagioli, if listened to him live, is able to draw a significant spectrum of vocal dynamics. Judging from my watching his live performance as Arbace in Vinci's 'Artaserse' and this Caffarelli album, I tend to think that he commands a very significant dynamic range, too. The way he swings from fully dramatic chesty contralto/tenorial register to the light leggiero coloratura top register is evidenced by many selections in the present album. He is expert in swinging from powerfully masculine to lyrically mellifluous IN NO TIME. I'll bet if Caffarelli (and Farinelli) could be as adept at these pyro-techniques as Franco, who, mind you, owns tenorial register that these two castratos did not own.
Last but not the least, while I do not have much information about this relatively 'low-key' singer yet, I wonder which vocal schools he attended, for the way he uses his voice is one of the most outstanding, employing an absolutely even 'tubal' manner in changing registers, fully covering his voice when it goes up even to the highest notes.
Well, if we had Maria Callas in the 20th century, we have Franco Fagioli in the 21st.
Is he really that legendary?
The answer is a resounding 'YES'. And he is only 33 this year (how lucky we are!)
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on 3 September 2013
Franco Fagioli has been one of the leading countertenors of the new generation for a few years now, ever since winning the prestigious Neue Stimmen competition in Germany in 2003. Recently though, with recordings like Vinci: Artaserse and now Steffani: Stabat Mater / Bartoli as well as some sensational stage performances, his career has taken a dramatic new trajectory. This album from the French label Naïve catches Fagioli riding a wave of dazzling showmanship backed by an astounding technique beyond the dreams of most mortals.

Fittingly, Fagioli has chosen here to reflect the theatricality and swagger, as well as the extravagant virtuosity of Gaetano Majorano, a compatriot of the more well-known Farinelli. The impressive 76 page booklet is full of anecdotes about his outrageous behaviour, both on and off stage, for Caffarelli, as he re-named himself, was quite the prima donna. He used various techniques to unnerve other soloists onstage lest they steal his limelight, and he wasn't averse to challenging those who crossed his path to a duel. (In the London of 1738 however, he met his match in Handel, who was well used to dealing with big egos. On the pretext of concern that Caffarelli may forget his lines in Faramondo, Handel accompanied on the harpsichord playing every note of his aria, as one might with an inexperienced and nervous singer. Presumably Caffarelli was suitably chastened.)

Interestingly, on this CD Handel is conspicuous by his absence. The recital begins with a couple of arias for Medarse from Hasse's Siroe, the first showcasing Fagioli's Bartoli-like intensity in depicting the drama of a storm, the second designed to exhibit an equally important strand of technique, that of holding the long flowing line. And so we move through the repertoire of Caffarelli, each aria highlighting aspects of that extraordinary range and technical ability; from roulades to chromatic runs, Fagioli and Il Pomo d'Oro reflect the glamour and excitement which must have prevailed in an opera house at the appearance of these superstars.

The booklet which accompanies the CD manages to be both scholarly and amusing, the richly reproduced illustrations giving a compelling glimpse into the life of this castrato assoluto.
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on 10 September 2013
The amazingly talented young counter-tenor Franco Fagioli presents a quite rare, sophisticated and demanding selection of baroque arias. A beautiful voice, a perfect technique, a refined musicality: all of these assets make Fagioli's prospects in discography quite promising, in my view. This CD is a revelation or even a sensation in baroque music interpretation this year.
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on 18 September 2013
The 'Arias for Cafferelli' CD takes us into the world of Baroque opera where tempests rage, sons are condemned by their fathers and lovers bewail their partings in a wonderful range of visceral music. Those who have heard Fagioli in Vinci's Artaserse will have an idea of his amazing range, technique and sheer beauty of delivery. He does not disappoint. From the furies of outrage, the despair at parental judgement, to the most tender feelings of love, he carries us spellbound. So does Il Pomo D'Oro under Riccardo Minasti. They bombast us with brass for the furies of nature, sing duets with Fagioli with wind instruments and then let the strings so sensitively describe his sorrow - all with a superb mellow golden tone. It is a gem of a CD with a booklet to match.
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...Franco Fagioli was impressive in more than holding his own against Philippe Jaroussky and Max Emanuel Cenčić on Leonardo Vinci's five countertenor "Artaserse", then just wait until you hear him let loose on his own here. The selection for the programme is well chosen, and I would strongly suspect that several are world premières (the packaging usually boasts when this is the case, but not so here).

Standout track is Vinci's bravura piece "In braccio a mille furie" from his "Semiramide riconosciuta" (incidentally there is also a stunning rendition of this on David Hansen's "Rivals - Arias For Farinelli & Co."), but all here are good choices providing immense variety and showcasing Fagioli's broad range and emotional capabilities, including works from Johan Adolf Hasse, Leonardo Leo, Nicola Porpora, Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, and also three from composers I had never even heard of - Pasquale Cafaro, Domenico Sarro & Gennaro Manna - all of whose pieces stand comparison well with those from the more illustrious artists.
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on 23 February 2017
Essentially this flamboyant album is a little blast of champagne for the ears, as the Argentinian Fagioli shows off some glittering swagger-arias. The programme is based around arias written for the superstar castrato Caffarelli in the early 18th century and there are some real gems here, with plenty of dramatic pieces that suit Fagioli's style to a T. Things get underway with Fra l’orror della tempesta from Hasse’s Siroe, with some splendid high notes (it's interesting to note that this comes from a different version of the opera than the full Siroe recorded by Fagioli with Max Cencic et al, so it makes for a fascinating comparison). There’s also some Leonardo Vinci courtesy of the brilliant In braccio a mille furie from Semiramide riconosciuta, with which Fagioli predictably has a field day (many people, like me, will have discovered him through Vinci's Artaserse); but there are some calmer pieces. My current favourite is Lieto così talvolta from Pergolesi’s Adriano in Siria, with its gorgeous instrumental opening. The whole album has a delicious energy, perfectly suited to Fagioli's playful verve as a singer. What I most enjoy is the sense of bubbling possibility: every aria teeters on the brink of a firework display.
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on 8 January 2015
Great (if close miked) singing, but recording quality dreadful and the horns sound like they are on steroids.
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on 16 February 2015
This is the best CD ever - and I have hundreds of them. If you like castrato singers then this is a must
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on 9 December 2013
I was introduced to this CD by a friend of mine and knew I had to own it for myself as I love the sound of a male alto. Until now, I have avidly followed the career of Andreas Scholl but this man is in a league of his own! The sound he creates is incredible and extraordinary! I bought a CD for myself and the same for a friend who will also love it I know!
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